Nobody wants to think about it, much less have to actually deal with it, but knowing what to do in a septic emergency can mean the difference between needing a septic repair and a septic replacement. Trust us, repairs are always less expensive than replacing your whole system. Keep reading to discover the signs that your system is in distress and learn what you should do when unfortunate disaster strikes.
What Are the Signs of a Septic Emergency?
Because most septic components are buried underground, they tend be out of sight and out of mind for many homeowners. Knowing the early signs of a septic emergency can help you know when to take action to prevent further damage to your system.
Blackwater Overflow or Backup
In many septic emergencies, blackwater (i.e., sewage) may backup into your home’s lowest level toilets and drains or overflow into the area around the septic tank. This can be caused by an overfull tank blocking exit baffles or by clogs in the pipes leading to the septic tank. Be very careful not to touch blackwater with your bare hands if you see it backing up into your home or overflowing the septic tank.
Slow, Gurgling, Bubbling, or Clogged Drains
When properly functioning, your drains should clear about one gallon of water every 30 seconds. If you notice one drain slowing down, it may just be a clog in that pipe, but if drains all over your house are slower or gurgling after the water has drained, it could be a sign of serious septic trouble, especially when accompanied by an unpleasant odor.
Wet or Flooded Drainfield
If the ground above your drainfield or septic tank is wetter than the rest of your yard, it could be a sign that your septic system is flooding. Because of the nitrogen in septic effluent, a precursor to this symptom is often overly green, lush grass above your septic drainfield. If you have a localized pooling of water above your drainfield, it could be a sign of a broken drainfield pipe. More widespread flooding may indicate that your drainfield has failed completely.
What to Do During a Septic Emergency
Once you realize you may be dealing with a septic emergency, there are a few things you can do to hopefully prevent making the situation worse until your septic provider arrives for an emergency service visit.
Call Trusted Septic Provider for an Emergency Service Visit
Before anything else, you should call your trusted septic provider to schedule an emergency service visit. When disaster strikes, time is critical in getting ahead of the issue and preventing further damage to your septic system. A septic provider will be able to quickly assess and resolve the problem to get your home back up and running. Do not delay. The longer you wait to get somebody into your home, the worse your septic emergency may become. Many septic providers, ourselves included, offer emergency septic services for this very reason.
Immediately Stop All Water Usage
Because all water that goes down your drains ends up in your septic system, if your septic system is in distress, you will need to immediately stop all water usage. It may sound extreme, but even minimal water usage can tip the scales and cause a minor disaster into a full blown catastrophe. If you need to use water in the time before your septic provider arrives (for brushing teeth, washing hands, cooking, etc.), pour it into a container and dump it outside, far away from your septic system.
Thoroughly and Carefully Disinfect Affected Areas
If your septic emergency involves blackwater overflowing the septic tank or backing up into your home, you want to be sure to thoroughly disinfect any affected areas. Blackwater is considered to be a contaminate, which means it can carry dangerous bacteria that could make you or your loved ones sick. Wear protective gear (gloves, rubber boots, and a facemask) and dispose of any contaminated items in a strong plastic bag in the garbage. If groundwater contamination is suspected in a home that relies on well water, immediately stop consuming your home’s water and contact the local health department to ensure your water is safe to drink.
Supeck Septic is Your Trusted Septic Provider
As Northeast Ohio’s largest septic provider, Supeck Septic is passionate about providing exceptional routine and emergency septic care. We are an approved service provider for all makes and styles of septic and aeration systems, regardless of age or complexity. If you find yourself dealing with a septic emergency, call us to schedule an emergency service visit!